Gov. Greg Abbott announced the Police Protection Act as an effort to increase penalties for crimes committed against law enforcement officers. Abbott is asking Texas legislature to pass the bill in the 2017 legislative session.
The proposed law will make it a hate crime for anyone to commit a crime against a law enforcement officer. The Police Protection Act comes in light of the recent police attacks in Dallas, where 12 officers were shot and five were killed.
“While our state and the nation continue to mourn the heroes lost in Dallas, it is time for us to unite as Texans to say no more,” Abbott said. “The men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to protect the public, and it is time we show them the State of Texas has their back. Texas will no longer tolerate disrespect for those who serve, and it must be made clear to anyone targeting our law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice.”
Included by Abbott under the Police Protection Act are a number of proposals that make higher penalties for crimes that are biased against the police. Under the act, hate crime protections will be extended to law enforcement officers as well as increased criminal penalties for any crime where the victim is a police officer, whether it qualifies as a hate crime or not. The increased crime penalties will go from a third degree felony for assault on a police officer to a second degree felony for the same crime.
“The Governor’s proposals send a clear message to anyone considering targeting law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice,” John Whittman, a spokesperson for Abbott’s office told the Southeastern Texas Record.
Abbott also intends to increase the respect for law enforcement officers by creating a campaign to educate young Texas resident on the value and service that police officers bring to their communities. This could help to decrease the bias that is occurring in many communities against police officers.
Law enforcement seems to be aligning with Abbott’s Police Protection Act with several associations applauding his efforts.
“As a 26-plus year police officer in Houston, I’m extremely encouraged by Gov. Greg Abbott’s legislative priority to make the State of Texas a national leader in protecting the lives of law enforcement officers, said Ray Hunt, president at the Houston Police Officers Association. “The attacks on law enforcement in Texas and the rest of our nation are unprecedented. Gov. Abbott’s solution is the right approach for Texas law enforcement officers and the people of Texas who support them.”
Kevin Lawrence, executive director at the Texas Municipal Police Association, agreed.
“We applaud Governor Abbott for recognizing the importance of protecting law enforcement officers in the state of Texas,” Lawrence said. “False narratives and irresponsible anti-police rhetoric have put our officers in greater danger than ever before. This is an important step toward protecting those who protect the citizens of this great state.”
Abbott’s Police Protection Act seems like a promising start to reduce crimes against police officers.